Wednesday, June 27, 2007

James Thurber's Bread & Butter

To the Palmer Family

September 21, 1944.

Dear Minna, Janey, Mary, and Cornelia:

Well, here I am again, home safe and unsound. I lay around the Algonquin until train time, while Helen shopped for birthday presents for Rosie and an evening dress for herself to keep up her morale. She tells people that I was sick in the house of my girl, her mother, and sisters. "Well, how nice," say the neighbours primly. . .

We were only 20 minutes late, owing to the engineer, who had bella donna in his eyes. The conductor was a pleasant little man who had never made this run before and had the feeling he was going backward.

At Grand Central we could not get a cab till Helen told a redcap I had pneumonia. "Oh, I'll get your father a cab right away," he said, and he did.

September 22

A kind of moribundity got me yesterday after so much exercise with a pencil. I feel stronger today--I could easily crack an English walnut.

Yesterday was hot and muggy like a 15-year-old Pekinese, but today is beautiful, clear, sunny, C Major.

This is a plain ordinary bread and butter letter, and it should be a steak and Clos Veugeot letter. We will never be able to express our love and gratitude to the Palmers, so I won't even try. It was the best time a pneumonia patient ever had . . . .

-from The Thurber Letters: the wit, wisdom, and surprising life of James Thurber edited by Harrison Kinney (New York: Simon & Schuster,2003). p. 365.

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